What are the technologies worth studying?
The best way to predict the future is to create it, wrote Peter Drucker. As humans, we sometimes tend to assume progress is inevitable. But progress emerges from the quest for knowledge and creating things of significance and beauty, stated another author, Arthur C. Clarke.
Both views are highly relevant today as digital technology and emerging innovations offer us incredible amounts of choice. This places particular weight on what we choose to study.
“People can become confused when they look at their education options, especially if they want to start a technology career,” says Kapil Jaggeth, Managing Executive of Torque IT. “There is a lot on offer and the way you build your knowledge has changed. There are fewer and fewer careers that you study, get a degree, and then do your job. Modern technology careers place a greater emphasis on continual learning and pivoting. But you have to start somewhere, so that first choice of what to study can be a very anxious one.”
These considerations aren’t only for people who want to join IT departments:
“Technology is not just for the specialist anymore. It impacts almost everyone’s career. Something we love seeing at Torque IT are people who come in to learn a specific skill that will enhance their career. For example, some delegates take courses to understand data science or to improve their abilities with low code. The most important message is that technology education is for everyone. You don’t have to work in IT to benefit from technology skills.”
Jaggeth shares his views on some of the most popular and less-considered technology study choices.
“Security is probably one of the most future-proof careers at the moment. There is incredible demand for security skills, both for specialists and among business professionals who have a grasp on the topic. It’s a fast-moving industry and you will continually be learning on the job. There are also many different roles in security. If you want a stepping stone into an IT career and security interests you, it’s a very good place to start.”
“The cloud runs everything in the digital world and it’s only going to grow in importance. Some people think that because it’s so commonplace there aren’t many careers in the cloud market. But that’s not true at all – there is huge demand for cloud roles, especially cloud architects. The challenge is that there are many different things you can do in the cloud, so look for a career that aligns with your interests. For example, you can combine security and data science into a cloud role.”
“AI is a terrific technology, no doubt about that. But it’s also incredibly specialised and often very demanding. AI can also represent many different things. If you expect to build AI systems that might one day look like something from a science fiction movie, you will operate in a highly specialised space. But if you want to work on automation, that’s very different. Not everything called AI is the same thing, so don’t get swept up by the hype. Look very closely at what you want to achieve through your studies.”
Internet of Things (IoT)
“IoT is a good technology concept to have under your belt because it’s relevant in most technology scenarios. IoT connects the digital and real worlds – not only in obvious places such as construction and mining, but fleet logistics, building management, healthcare, human resources… There are so many examples. It’s also a big space for makers and startups. If someone likes to tinker and invent, but doesn’t know where to start building their career, they should study IoT on at least an introductory level.”
“IT certifications are the glue of the technology industry. While it’s important to get vendor-agnostic training around a technology, you are very likely to have to work with specific vendor products as well. Certifications can be very valuable, and they can be a great first-step into an IT career. Just remember that a certification is often a commitment to a specific vendor or solution type. You will want to keep studying and expanding your certifications. People who studied to become MCSEs twenty years ago are now trained in different certifications. Certifications change with technology, and technology never stops changing.”
“Honestly, if you have an aptitude for programming, you can never go wrong with studying it. Your choice will depend on the programming language you choose, and you should look at what is actually being used by the market. You might want to start with a foundational language such as Python, then go for a modern language such as C# or a web language such as PHP. It could even be a legacy mainframe language such as COBOL, which many enterprises still use. But it’s not just for specialists: anyone who develops business processes will benefit from understanding programming fundamentals.”
“We might be surrounded by technology, but I don’t think we’re a technology-literate society. Being able to use an app doesn’t make a person technology literate. There are many basic technology skills that would make your life a lot easier if you understood them. Examples are security hygiene, software features such as pivot tables, basic databases and data management, basic technology troubleshooting, low- and no-code, design thinking, software maintenance, and so on. Many technology skills are very useful to have for your day-to-day activities. I think we can place much more emphasis on teaching technology literacy.”